You Know You’re an Instructional Designer When…

As the spring draws to a close, so does my time as an Instructional Designer. I’ve been working in this field for a little shy of 5 years, and I’ve found it to be a very unique career path that I never would have known existed if it weren’t for the entry position I stumbled upon while in college. Despite the fact that I wasn’t aware of instructional design when I started, I have found several things to be true among fellow designers and their experiences. Can you relate?


A strange Job Title

“What does that mean?” “So are you a teacher?” “How do you design instruction? Don’t you just instruct?”

Friends and family ask ‘what do you do?’, yet don’t recognize the title as something they’re aware of. I remember distinctly having no idea what the job title meant, either! It’s somewhat confusing, but it truly does explain exactly what we do. However, I typically end up having to give them more of an explanation, because once I say “Instructional Design”, their eyes open wide and I can tell they’re confused. It’s such an obscure career, but that just means more opportunities for us, right?


Random Knowledge

One of my very favorite parts about being an instructional designer is the vast, random, knowledge I now hold. Working for a university, our team develops trainings for any department on campus, meaning we learn all kinds of information that likely will be of no use to us in the future. If you were to ask me about chlorine safety, bloodborne pathogens, lab safety, CPR, budgeting, email phishing, class registration, laser safety, or x-rays, I now have a surprising amount of knowledge. It’s important that we’re knowledgeable about the content we create as Instructional Designers, because we act as the ‘translator’ between the Subject Matter Experts and the learners. So the next time you get a project full of information that is otherwise inapplicable to your life, store it away until you try out for a game show!


Love/Hate Captivate

Of all the amazing, powerful programs that we use as IDs, I think it’s safe to say that we all have a love/hate relationship with Adobe Captivate. I should probably mention as a disclaimer that I’m intermediate when it comes to Captivate, so the magic that some people can create with Captivate absolutely mystifies me (and makes me jealous). On the other hand, I’ve been stumped more times than I could count. In our office full of designers, there are typically equal parts of frustration and victory using good ole’ Captivate.


These are only a few things that we comedically encounter as Instructional Designers, and the list goes on! What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.


Savannah is a Graphic Design Professor at Gila Community College, and is passionate about using design to better the world around her. She believes in researched design, and is a major proponent of paper before pixel. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, designing for small businesses and non-profits, and attempting any DIY she finds on Pinterest.

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